This is a hallowed and consecrated maxim of Christianity. It teaches in few words the inherent dignity and worth of the human person not only as created to the Image of God but also as someone redeemed by Christ Himself. Consequently, it says that there is nothing on earth, in it and above it that is more precious and invaluable than the human person. That is why no matter how odious and vile, hideous and heinous sins are, the sinner still deserves to be loved—in accord with the paramount commandment of loving neighbor hand-in-hand with loving God.
The main question that comes to mind is what does loving a sinner honestly mean and genuinely imply? Is loving a sinner and a saint after all the same? Should virtuous and vicious people be treated alike, be related with in equal terms, be loved indifferently? If so, why is God known not only for rewarding good people but also for punishing bad individuals, revered not only for His infinite love but also for his Infinite justice? Wherefore, why is there a heaven and a hell—whose difference is unfathomable—if sinners and saints are alike anyway as objects of love.
Embracing a known drug lord. Hugging an infamous gambling operator. Kissing a notorious prostitution den owner. Intimate friendship with a big celebrated liar. Lavish hospitality to a big familiar thief. Affectionate friendship with a big prominent cheat. Giving communion to a public sinner. Are these but different expressions or various manifestations of loving sinners? Much less should loving a sinner be basically caused by receiving therefrom big favors, benefactions and/or donations. The truth is that loving a sinner in reality and truth means something quite different and distinct than usually and wherefore wrongly understood.
Loving a sinner is certainly not patronizing the person, much less treating this with such reverence and respect that the same practically feels he or she is doing so well, living so right. Loving a sinner is definitely not making this think that he or she is a good person and/or even a holy individual—such that the same gets the perception that neither is there anything to worry about, to be sorry for, to make sincere repentance for sins done, nor to seek forgiveness from God. Loving a sinner is precisely advising this of his or her wrong doings, pointing out to the same what must be corrected in his or her life, and leading this to sincere repentance and purpose of self-amendment.
Precisely, loving a sinner—a public one in particular—is not giving this the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ, giving him or her preferential treatment, making the same very comfortable with a sinful life, and in fact strongly tempting the same to continue wallowing in sin. This in effect is hating the sinner by basically leading him or her to eventual eternal damnation by the sin of presumption which is a fatal offense against the Good Lord.
The gross sin of presumption is considered unforgivable specifically because the sinner comes to the conclusion that he or she is so good and holy that the same needs no forgiveness and wherefore does not ask for any. Thus it is that a wrong interpretation of loving the sinner is not only cruel to him or her, but also fatal for the same for the here and now, as well as hereafter and beyond.
31 March 2008